Scenario Twelve, Option Three

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Title: Scenario Twelve, Option Three
Category: Finale-Fix
Rating: PG
Summary: The market research said everyone loved a bit of humanoid drama, something they could get passionate and worked up about.
Author's Note: My response to the news of THAT twist of events in TATV *mutter mutter*

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The market research had shown that everybody loved a bit of humanoid drama, something that they could get passionate and worked up about. That was why Martia had included the character death. Don't get her wrong, though, she loves and respects the legacy of the crew of the first ever starship Enterprise as much as the next person -- which is pretty much everyone! -- and in the beginning she'd felt really bad about doing this when her boss had suggested the alternatives in the program. But then again, holoprogrammers are pretty much two a credit in this day and age, and you have to keep on top of what the public want if you don't want to go under.

She still remembers the history lessons in school, and later at the Academy before dropping out halfway through her second year, the ones where they'd cover all the fundamentals from the twenty-first and twenty-second centuries. Her favourites had always been the history of warp travel -- watching the original archive footage of Zephram Cochrane as he made that infamous speech about boldly going where no man has gone before and seeing all the different engineers going about their work as they planned and designed and built the first ever starship to carry the name Enterprise. Martia and her classmates had pretty much grown up watching the likes of Cochrane and Henry Archer telling the cameras and people out there about their dreams and aspirations for the new ship, although in Cochrane's case it had always been a bit more tongue-in-cheek than most, like he knew what would be coming but unwilling to share it with the outside world.

She grew up reading about the crew -- she'd done her seventh grade history project on the armoury officer, then Lieutenant Reed, but who later went on to become captain, then admiral. Had enjoyed reading the memoirs and other publications by some of the other crew, and one of Martia's closest friends, a language teacher in New South Africa, still swears by some of the learning methods illustrated by Hoshi Sato in one of her first books.

And then there was Commander Tucker. In some way, Martia can blame him for her going into the world of holoprogramming in the first place -- after all, how many jobs can you think of today that would let you all but drool over some of history's finest looking men and get paid for it?!

Not that many.

But anyway. This is the twenty-fourth century, some two hundred years since the Federation Charter had been signed and attended by the crew of the Enterprise NX-01. And as a qualified and experienced historian -- she's written a few critically acclaimed books on the history of the Federation -- Martia felt she was more than capable of dealing with a new request from her boss. A few people had been to see him about more interactive versions of the NX-01, and whether or not his company would be up to the task of designing something with their ideology in mind. An ideology, that Martia was later to find out, included a little tweaking of the history books.

It's nothing new of course. Look at the American film industry in the later twentieth century. Especially all those "animated" films spawned by the Disney guy and his family. Thanks to them, most people had grown up thinking that Heracles was actually named Hercules, when most of the other characters around him had the Greek names, and was even fully immortal, whereas everyone knows that according to Greek mythology, Heracles was half mortal to begin with. And all the other true-life stories and fables from human mythology they squandered all willy-nilly (something Martia's ex-husband used to say before he took off with the next-door neighbour). So working on that extensis, it shouldn't really have been difficult for Martia to fulfil this latest brief from Him In Charge.

She'd recreated the six or seven years leading up to the signing of the Charter in as much detail as the archives would give her, adding in her own embellishes where there were only shades of grey. It was a little perk of the job, her own unique little signature in the program to show that this was her creation, and nobody else's. Usually it was a recurring background character based on somebody she knew, or used to know. Sometimes it was Tom, the ex, lurking in the background, making a prat of himself. Other times it would be a teacher, or friend. It didn't really matter who, honestly.

So here Martia was, on the verge of completing one of the most comprehensive interactive holographic reconstructions of one of the most significant times and events in the history of United Earth. And it was only then she'd remembered to scroll down the next page of the brief, to read the rest of what the customers had wanted with this program.

Options for variant events had to be incorporated somehow. Something not going quite to plan, leading to the Charter not being signed, for example. The market research had shown that everybody loved a bit of humanoid drama, something that they could get passionate and worked up about. This had been why Martia had included the option for character deaths. Although she'd been loathe to, initially, her boss had been ecstatic with the idea, quoted the line about the market research to her, and had praised her for her creative genius. If for nothing else than the pay, Martia had gone ahead with the character death options.

For example, Scenarios One through Three all postulated the death of Captain Archer, either in the years leading up to the signing of the Charter, during the event itself or in the time shortly afterwards, each with different impacts on the "course" of history, depending on the action taken by the protagonist, the person who was taking part in the program.

Scenario Four was the death of Ensign Mayweather.

Scenarios Five, Six and Seven were the unpredictable combinations of the "T'Pol element", as one critic of the program had called it. Some of the options in those scenarios had T'Pol returning to Vulcan and marrying the architect guy, some had her canoodling with the captain during off-duty hours, and a few other had different outcomes of the short-lived relationship with Commander Tucker. Again it depended on which scenario and option you picked before activating the holoprogram, and of course, all of the options in these three scenarios incorporated her death.

Scenario Eight held different mortalities for Ensign Sato.

Scenario Nine was the death or otherwise disappearance of Phlox, one of two aliens on the human ship.

Scenarios Ten and Eleven centred around Lieutenant Reed. The enigma of the senior staff. Martia had run with this particular aspect of his character through all of the scenarios the program had offered, although Ten and Eleven naturally focused on the end of the man.

And Scenario Twelve postulated no less than twenty-six different deaths for Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker the Third. Twenty-six deaths, one for each letter of the Anglo-Roman alphabet, although they were numbered for user-friendlier reference.

Scenario Twelve had been the hardest for Martia to design and program. Not for any sentimental reason like a lingering crush on the historical figure -- in fact, where most of her friends had fantasised about either Tucker or Archer growing up, Martia had herself preferred the younger helmsman, Mayweather, in terms of his physical looks -- nor was it for lack of ideas. Martia had grown up reading the classic murder-mysteries and serial-killer thrillers by the Trill and Klingon bestsellers of the last five hundred years or more, there had never been any danger of her not being able to think up demises for the NX-01 crew.

It's just that every time she thinks about one of the deaths in particular she's created for Trip Tucker, there's an automatic reaction in her to reach for the databank access in the office of her apartment, and rummage around until she finds what she wants. The real signing of the Federation Charter, the one where every single original senior staff member of the Enterprise NX-01 got up at some point -- whether during the signing itself or at the informal gathering afterwards -- to give their own little speeches.

Sitting there in the dark of her apartment, she'll flick through the bookmarked sections on the disk until she finds Tucker's speech, slightly tipsy and more than a little giddy on adrenaline, to one of the Andorian ambassadors during the politically-charged party in the days after the signing of the Charter. How someone managed to catch it on camera without either Tucker or the ambassador noticing has always been beyond Martia, but in recent years she's come to the suspicion that neither of them really cared all that much.

She'll press forward on the control again, and watch Tucker, slightly tipsy and more than a little giddy on adrenaline, as he tries to explain to the Andorian delegate -- Shran -- exactly what it is that'll make the Federation Treaty last for centuries to come. It's a damn moving piece, and as a historian it's something that never fails to amaze Martia -- even during her most brilliant moments as a some time university lecturer, she's never been able to come up with something as moving and pertinent as a partially inebriated Southern engineer nearly a hundred and fifty years dead.

In the weeks after finally finishing the program she'd titled "These Are The Voyages", Martia had heard that the program had been purchased by a couple of "unnamed officers" on the Enterprise NCC-1701-D, the flagship of the Federation Fleet. And every time she thinks about them, Martia can't help but wonder what they and their colleagues think of the program, and which scenarios they choose to run everytime they enter the holodeck. And each time she does that, Martia hopes they didn't go for Option Three of Scenario Twelve.

Because that's the selection where Commander Tucker dies alone on some godforsaken mission at the behest of the captain, and unless the protagonist chooses to intervene, he is barely mourned by his colleagues in the following days leading up to the Federation Charter, and afterwards.

The market research had shown that everybody loved a bit of humanoid drama, something that they could get passionate and worked up about.

And unless she takes the time every evening to watch Commander Tucker's interaction with Shran after the signing of the Charter, Martia goes to bed every night wondering why on Earth anyone would want to run a program with the kinds of scenarios she incorporated into "These Are The Voyages".

They could just read a good fiction book, instead.

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